How do I apply for Universal Credit?
BRITS can claim Universal Credit if they are struggling on a low income or are out of work.
The payment replaced various other benefits such as working tax credit and housing allowance – but how can you apply?Eligibility for Universal Credit depends on income and age[/caption]
Who is eligible to claim Universal Credit?
Whether you’re able to claim Universal Credit depends on your individual circumstances.
You may be able to get Universal Credit if:
- you’re on a low income or out of work
- you’re 18 or over – but there are some exceptions if you’re 16 to 17
- you’re under State Pension age (or your partner is)
- you and your partner have £16,000 or less in savings between you
- you live in the UK
If you’re an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, you will need settled or pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme to get Universal Credit.
The number of children you have does not affect your eligibility but it may affect how much you get.
If you live with your partner their income and savings will be taken into account, even if they are not eligible for Universal Credit.
If you’re not eligible for Universal Credit, you can use the government’s benefits calculator to find out what help you can get.
How can I apply for Universal Credit?
Universal Credit has replaced certain benefits, meaning that if you claim them you will automatically be transferred to the new system.
What to do if you have problems claiming Universal Credit
IF you're experiencing trouble applying for your Universal Credit, or the payments just don't cover costs, here are your options:
- Apply for an advance – Claimants are able to get some cash within five days rather than waiting weeks for their first payment. But it’s a loan which means the repayments will be automatically deducted from your future Universal Credit payout.
- Alternative Payment Arrangements – If you’re falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an APA which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord. You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you’re part of a couple.
- Budgeting Advance – You may be able to get help from the Government for emergency household costs of up to £348 if you’re single, £464 if you’re part of a couple or £812 if you have children. These are only in cases like your cooker breaking down or for help getting a job. You’ll have to repay the advance through your regular Universal Credit payments. You’ll still have to repay the loan, even if you stop claiming for Universal Credit.
- Cut your Council Tax – You might be able to get a discount on your Council Tax by applying for a Council Tax Reduction. Alternatively, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments to help cover your rent.
- Foodbanks – If you’re really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free. You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.
These benefits include:
- Child Tax Credit
- Housing Benefit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Working Tax Credit
If you have a change in circumstances, such as a new baby or job, you could be switched over to Universal Credit.
Otherwise, you will have to wait until you’re contacted by the government as it rolls the new system out across the country.
But if you need to access benefits for the first time, you can apply for Universal Credit online by creating a government website account.
In order to access the benefit, you should submit your claim within 28 days of making an account.
You will then have to attend an interview at a Jobcentre Plus, which will be within 10 days of submitting your application.
If you have a disability or health condition you may also need a work capability assessment.
People who are struggling with bills or other costs while they wait for their first payment can apply to get an advance.
Otherwise you will have to wait five weeks to receive your cash.
How much will I get?
The amount you will get depends on several criteria, including your age, earnings, whether you live with a partner, have children or are disabled.
The standard monthly allowance for single people aged under 25 is £344, rising to £411.51 for older claiments.
Brits that are in a couple, where both members are under 25, will get £490.60 for both people.
If either half of the couple is over 25, you’ll get £596.58.
You will get extra money if you’ve got children or have a health or disability condition.
You can also claim more cash if you need help with your housing costs.
The amount you earn also impacts how much Universal Credit you can access – the more money you earn, the smaller your payment will be.
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